Here are my packing tips, all learnt the hard way. I have over packed to the extent that one memorable occasion I had to wear 3 (!!) jumpers (sweaters for you North Americans) onto a plane as I had no room for them in my suitcase. And yes I was dying, I was so hot despite the weather being really cold. I also had a coat! I peeled all 3 jumpers off once I was on the plane and shoved them into the overhead lockers, I think I carried them off once I reached Australia, it was summer there!
Then there was the packing of my backpack for my year’s backpacking around the world. The backpack was the size of a family suitcase and I crammed everything but the kitchen sink in it. Including a travel iron (!!!!) and matching shoes and handbags. (Yes plural more than one set! I was going to some family functions and wanted to make a good impression!!) I posted the matching handbags and shoes back from my first stop in the U.S. The backpack was far too big for me, I’m only 161cm tall (5 foot 2) that was my first mistake and I couldn’t walk with it fully laden so would stagger to train station lockers, place the backpack in it and only take what I needed to the youth hostel. And then visit every few days! I don’t have this backpack anymore I gave it away last year to a tall 20 year old, off overseas, I’m sure she had more sense and didn’t overload it!
So travel tips:
· pack light, the rule of 2 is the way to go. Pack only 2 of everything, 2 t-shirts etc, consider that you will buy things in your travels, don’t leave home with the majority of your wardrobe in your suitcase.
· Take one set of warm clothes even if travelling in summer, there’s nothing worse than being cold if the weather is unseasonable. I take a lightweight fleece zip up jacket, a long sleeve t-shirt and one pair of long pants.
· Zip lock bags are your friend. Place shampoo bottles in them. I’ve had 2 occasions where, because of airpressure shampoo bottles have exploded in my suitcase! I spent one evening upon arrival in my hotel room, rinsing shampoo out of my packed clothes! The second occasion, I hadn’t sealed the ziplock up fully so only a small leakage in the suitcase.
· Sandwich sized ziplock bags can be used to put small amounts of laundry detergent in, the powdered variety! That way you have detergent when you find a washing machine or want to handwash clothes. Separating the detergent into different small bags means you can cram them into small areas in your luggage, rather than a large box or bag taking up a lot of room. Plus once you’ve used up one small bag you throw it away and then that’s one less thing in your luggage!
· Small ziplock bags are good to place different currencies in while you’re travelling. Last year in Europe I carried, pounds, euros, Czech currency and kuna all in different little bags for when I needed them.
· Take adapters with you, nothing more annoying to find you can’t charge up all your electrical appliances we now can’t do without.
· Roll or fold? To save as much space as possible, different people swear by different methods of packing, I use a combination of both. I roll the majority of the clothing and pack them in close together. Then fold across the top one or 2 items. I also tuck into as many things as possible into corners or shoes and for the final item, it’s usually the fleece jacket tucking everything in like a blanket!
· Pack one ‘good’ outfit (for me usually a dress, in non crease material!) for when you go somewhere rather upmarket.
· When choosing what clothing to bring, think lightweight. I never pack denim jeans because they weight too much! And they’re a pain to wash and take forever to dry.
· Buy travel size toiletries, including shampoo, I just throw out the small bottles once finished. Small things are easier to find room for.
Here's the selection of luggage I currently have.
The green cabin bag sized suitcase I use for trips of 2 to 3 days, very convenient as I don't have to check it in.
The purple back pack was back pack number 2 in a much smaller size than #1! I worked out that it couldn't weigh more than 13kg when fully ladened or I couldn't walk! This is how I learned to pack light! Now used mainly for local holidays travelling by car! It has a daypack you can zip onto the front, have misplaced it so I've just got the backpack.
Red expandable suitcase at the time was a good buy, but as it could expand there was too much of a temptation to overpack or buy too many things as I travelled. Rarely used now.
The smaller tan (although it looks grey in the photo) suitcase for 1 week and over trips. I used it for a 4 week trip to Europe a few years back and managed to cram in a heavy puffy jacket in it!
The grey/ silver suitcase is the one I use for my longer trips (6 weeks) as it doesn't expand it's easier to not overpack. The 4 wheels help with manoeuvrability.
Notice that none of my suitcases are black, that's deliberate because everyone else's are! I chose non standard colours and have luggage tags on them that are different colours as well to spot them quickly when on a luggage carousel.
Travelling independently (i.e. not on an organised tour) means that you need to make sure you can move your luggage easily, so I've learnt to pack light right at the beginning of the trip (suitcase doesn't weigh more than about 12kg). Resist the temptation to buy a large suitcase, for long trips I have the medium one in each range. The silver hard case has the dimensions (I got out the measuring tape!) of height of 600cm, the depth of 220cm and the width of 400cm. That was fine for 6 weeks travelling in Europe.